Sport in our communities Contents

Conclusions and recommendations


1.The impact of successive lockdowns on activity levels was not as bad as initially feared but the Committee is concerned about the consequences of the final lockdown from December 2020 onwards which has not yet been covered by an Active Lives survey. The Government and Sport England must renew their efforts on encouraging people back into sport to pre-empt any further drops in participation during ‘Lockdown 3’. We recommend that the Government initiate a sporting equivalent of the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ campaign, entitled ‘Work Out to Help Out’, to incentivise volunteers and participants to get involved, participate in organised sport and support the sporting infrastructure, both in England and across the UK. (Paragraph 11)

2.The proportion of children and young people not achieving the minimum amount of daily activity recommended by the Chief Medical Officer is of significant concern. Before the end of this year, the Government should initiate a nation-wide communications campaign, similar to that of the ‘5 A Day’ campaign, to emphasise the importance of children and young people engaging in at least 60 minutes of moderate activity every day. (Paragraph 15)

3.Year on year, we continue to see persistent gaps in activity levels between different demographics. This issue has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and certain groups in society continue to be disproportionately impacted. We acknowledge the support provided through Sport England’s ‘Tackling Inequalities Fund’ but support must be focused, as a matter of priority, on ensuring that activity levels among, in particular, women, disabled people and people from a BAME background recover and improve in the long-term. We recommend that the Government reconsider our previous recommendation to ring-fence further funds to ensure that the progress that was being made in physical activity levels within these groups is not set back by Covid-19, both by encouraging participation and by attracting leaders and volunteers from a range of communities and backgrounds across the UK. (Paragraph 20)

4.Community and grassroots sport is heavily reliant on a relatively small volunteer workforce who have worked tirelessly through the pandemic to keep their clubs going. This shrinking workforce is one of the biggest challenges facing community sport post-pandemic. Sport England has placed an important focus on the issue in its new ten-year strategy, Uniting the Movement, but the sports groups affected by the declining number of volunteers need help now. In addition to our proposed ‘Work Out to Help Out’ scheme, we recommend that the Government should set out, in its response to this Report, how else it will work with Sport England over the next 18-months to encourage people to volunteer across the community and grassroots sport sector and reduce drop-out rates among existing volunteers. (Paragraph 26)

Funding and facilities

5.Many National Governing Bodies and other sports groups and organisations were not financially stable enough to fully support themselves through the economic shock that was caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. There is a balance to be found between ensuring enough money is spent to improve participation and support community and grassroots sport, and ensuring organisations can be more financially resilient in an emergency. We recommend that the Government work with Sport England, UK Sport and the National Lottery to review and revise the current funding models to enable sports organisations to accumulate greater reserves and, as a result, have more of a cushion to support themselves with should another situation like the Covid-19 pandemic occur. (Paragraph 31)

6.Even in normal circumstances, volunteers in grassroots and community sport dedicate a significant amount of time to applying for funding. Organisations such as Sported and StreetGames play an important role in supporting their members to complete applications but the extensive administrative burden associated with these applications seems unnecessary, and has only increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. To reduce the administrative burden on volunteers across the sport sector, we recommend that the Government work with governing and funding bodies to introduce a standardised application methodology for grassroots and community sport funds. (Paragraph 37)

7.School facilities have the potential to help solve the facilities crisis currently facing community and grassroots sport. Renting out school facilities at a fair, affordable rate not only benefits the sports groups but also creates an additional revenue stream for the schools. In its response to this Report, we recommend that the Government set out the ways in which it intends to encourage schools across the country to make their facilities more available to community and grassroots sports clubs at a fair rate. (Paragraph 46)

8.We welcome the introduction of the Community Ownership Fund but, at a time where many community groups have faced unprecedented challenges, we are disappointed that the bidding process did not begin in June 2021 as the Government promised it would. Access to facilities has long been an issue for grassroots and community sport and we are concerned that the fund, in its current format, will not go far enough. We were also not persuaded by the Minister’s argument that ringfencing money for sports groups would not be a good thing. In the short-term, we recommend that the Government set out the ways in which it will support community sport groups which are successful in applying for match funding through the Community Ownership Fund. In the longer term, we recommend that the Government ringfence money, either from the Community Ownership Fund or elsewhere, to enable sports clubs and teams to purchase and upgrade their own facilities. (Paragraph 49)

Sports governance

9.The evidence submitted to our inquiry about the performance of National Governing Bodies during the pandemic has been genuinely mixed. Lessons must be learned from the way funding and information was disseminated down to the grassroots during the Covid-19 pandemic. We recommend that Sport England conduct an audit of how National Governing Bodies communicate with their grassroots clubs and develop best practice guidance for all NGBs. (Paragraph 52)

10.The lack of diversity in the upper echelons of sports governance is striking. We acknowledge the work being undertaken by Sport England and UK Sport to address the issue, including the recently completed review of the Code for Sports Governance, but we are concerned that governing bodies are still experiencing such a lack of diversity seven years after the original Code was first launched. We recommend that Sport England and Sport UK should be required to publish, at least annually, information about the diversity of candidates for all advertised roles in their organisations and the boards that make those appointments. (Paragraph 58)

Published: 29 July 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement